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Japanese Stock Futures Gain on U.S. Housing, China GDP

Japanese stock futures and Australian equities rose as a jump in U.S. housing starts boosted investor confidence in the global economic outlook ahead of a report today that may show China’s slowdown is ebbing.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, advanced 2.5 percent as metals prices climbed. American Depositary Receipts of Komatsu Ltd., the world’s second-biggest construction-equipment maker that makes 80 percent of sales outside Japan, advanced 1.1 percent.

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in December closed at 8,865 in Chicago yesterday, up from 8,810 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,860 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.9 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.5 percent in Wellington.

“Investors are taking advantage of attractive valuations and a slightly improved outlook for the global economy,” said Matthew Sherwood, Perpetual Investments’ head of investment markets research in Sydney. Perpetual manages about $25 billion. “Later in China we get the all-important September quarter GDP.”

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The gauge advanced 0.4 percent yesterday. An index of 11 U.S. homebuilders surged 3.2 percent after housing starts jumped 15 percent to a four-year-high annual rate of 872,000 last month, exceeding all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Stimulus Measures

Chinese stocks in New York jumped yesterday, pushing the benchmark index to its longest rally in 15 months, on prospects the government’s gross domestic product report to be released in Beijing today will signal the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy is ebbing. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese companies in the U.S. climbed 0.4 percent to 95.76.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday the country’s economic situation last quarter was “relatively good,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Gross domestic product probably expanded 7.4 percent in the July-September period from a year earlier, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 43 economists. The economy grew 7.6 percent in the second quarter. The government will also report September data for industrial production and retail sales and January-to-September figures for fixed-asset investment.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rebounded 13 percent through yesterday from this year’s low on June 4 as stimulus measures in Europe, the U.S., Japan and China boosted market sentiment amid a global economic slowdown and Europe’s debt crisis. The Asian benchmark traded at 13 times estimated earnings on average, compared with 13.9 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and 12.3 for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.

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